Showcase : : Story
Sunday, January 09, 2011

PG welcomes family, friends

Jeff Dahn        

FORT MYERS, Fla. – The DiNatale family from Parkland, Fla., has been a member of the Perfect Game family for almost a decade.

Dave and Dalton DiNatale, the sons of David and Debbie DiNatale, have been participating in Perfect Game events since Dave attended the World Underclass Showcase in 2003 as a 15-year-old.

Dalton DiNatale, a junior corner infielder and outfielder at Calvary Christian Academy in Parkland who is ranked No. 90 nationally and No. 20 in Florida (class of 2012) by Perfect Game, was at Terry Park Saturday and Sunday, Jan. 8-9 for the Perfect Game World Showcase, his eighth PG event since 2008.

“It’s a different experience every time,” Dalton said over the weekend. “Sometimes you’ll play your best and have a great time and other times you won’t perform your best, but it’s always a great experience.”

Dave DiNatale, who is six years older than Dalton, was drafted out of high school in the 22nd round of the 2005 MLB June Amateur Draft by the Pittsburgh Pirates, played at the University of Miami for three years,  and then was taken in the 29th round by the Rockies in 2009. He’s played two seasons of minor league ball in the Rockies’ organization.

David was a regular at Perfect Game events from 2003 through 2005.

“It’s been a great experience just watching my brother play and seeing all the joys he’s gone through and all the tough times he’s faced, and I’ve been able to learn a lot from his mistakes and his successes,” Dalton said. “And it’s just been a great experience playing baseball.”

You hear a lot of that sort of thing at Perfect Game events, especially from players and their parents who have made traveling coast-to-coast a major part of their lives while dreams of playing collegiate baseball and ultimately professional baseball are realized.

“It’s been a tremendous blessing,” David DiNatale said of his family’s involvement with Perfect Game through the years. “Dave was at the World Showcase when he was a junior and again as a senior, and if you go back to the ’04 and ’05 showcases, that’s a Who’s Who.”

While Dave DiNatale was developing into one of PG’s top prospects in the class of 2005, his little brother Dalton was busy making his own memories that summer, memories shared by three other young players who are also at Terry Park for the 2011 World Showcase.

It was in 2005 that Dalton DiNatale, Julius Gaines, Michael Gill and Skyler Ewing were on their way to winning the National American Tournament of Champions at Dreams Park in Cooperstown, N.Y., while members of the Boys of Baseball National Travel Team.

Delino DeShields Jr. was also a member of that team. He was a 1st round selection of the Houston Astros in the 2010 Draft.

“(Dalton) just had such a great time, and all the kids on the team – even though they didn’t know each other – they just seemed to all connect,” David said. “(All the parents) were rooting for each other’s child and they just kept winning.”

The tournament was for 11-and 12-year-olds, so the boys were still a few years removed from participating in the their first Perfect Game event. They have now participated in nearly 50 PG events between them since 2007.

Gaines (2011, Locust Grove, Ga.) has developed into a standout shortstop who Perfect Game has ranked No. 16 nationally and No. 1 in Georgia in his class. He has committed to Florida International University. Ewing (2011, Arlington, Texas) is a catcher ranked 187-20, and Gill (2011, Flower Mound, Texas) is an outfielder ranked 343-30.

All of these players and their families have spent countless hours on the road. It comes with the territory and it comes with no complaints.

“When you’re a baseball parent, your whole life really revolves around the tournaments, primarily the Perfect Game tournaments and showcases,” David DiNatale said. “All of our vacations are pretty much wrapped around baseball.”

As an example, he noted that last summer Dalton particpated in a PG event in San Diego, had a tryout for USA Baseball elsewhere in California and also played part of the  summer with Southern California-based ADB Bulldogs travel team. Needless to say, the family vacation was spent in California.

“It’s really cool because you meet a lot of friends and they stay your friends all the way up through,” Debbie DiNatale said of the PG experience.  “The nice thing about doing it the second time, too, is you get to see the joys you experienced the first time around. You get to do that again wiith your second son.”

The kids just like playing baseball against other kids their age with similar experiences and talent levels.

“It’s good to gauge yourself against the top kids from around the country just to see where you’re at,” Dallton said. “It’s fun to just go out there and play good baseball.”
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